BOOK REVIEW – IT Doesn’t Matter


IT Doesn’t Matter.

This book is basically a rebuttal to Carr’s argument that Information technology has become a commodity and therefore no longer a distinguishing factor relative to competitive business strategy.

The book is an interesting read, and a quick one at 120 pages. The authors contend that the original article, IT doesn’t matter, would not have garnered a fraction of the attention that it received, had it not been published in a periodical prestige, as is the Harvard Business Review (HBR).

The HBR has a history of what a non-academic (such as myself) might refer to as alarmist sensationalism, and this is not the first time that an HBR article has been the catalyst for relatively wide-spread academic of poor business decision.

The books authors do a good job of debunking Carr’s intentions, though, as business focused writers, they tend to accept the commoditization of computing technology and subjugate it to “Business Process, Process.”

The book basically devalues the entire IT Industry and suggests that the technology doesn’t matter, just the ways companies implement their business processes using the technology. I’d say far was an idiot, but idiots doing get to write for the Harvard Business Review so instead I’ll suggest that the confusion lies in the vocabulary.

I’m guessing that what Carr really means is that those technologies which have become commodities no longer, in and of themselves, differentiate business advantage.

I agree.

But advances in Software, Hardware, and Network Connectivity DO MATTER.

It is these advances are what not only enable the solutions that DO differentiate business advantage, but these innovations catalyze the solutions that we haven’t thought of yet.

I think this book is an interesting read.

I think Carr’s article is another proof point that there is a great divide between IT in the REAL WORLD and in academics.

Comments (5)

  1. Brian says:

    Joe,

    I really struggle with some of the rebuttals to this article including yours. If I was a business owner I would be wary of the most of the talk from supposed industry leaders, analysts and pundits on the value of IT to business. It’s long been said that ‘the majority of IT projects fail’, and this has been the case for the last twenty years. I know a lot of projects are incredibly successful, but for a business person this still seems like a risky proposition. I don’t feel that this is a business versus IT versus academia issue since it’s evident every day I go to work.

    I think it is naïve to believe that IT provides significant value to business. More modern IT process and tools must be differentiated from the technical innovation that occurs to solve real problems. There are many common factors which apply to innovative organizations. Most are not present in IT organizations. It’s not simply a matter of saying that ASP.NET is an innovation technology and expecting business to lap it up. Real innovation occurs before you get to the point of selecting an IT technology.

    Consider the newspaper industry, a classic case of computer induced redundancy in the UK. The innovation was being able to virtually manage layout, handle copy and transfer to printers. None of the disparate technology development really was useful until the business process required the technology. Polishing of technology (eg. Classic ASP to ASP.NET) is not innovation. I think this is something Microsoft should keep in mind. You market to IT professionals who lap up minor changes that make their lives easier. Not a bad thing in itself. However, hype laden rhetoric doesn’t play well with the real business people.

    They struggle to understand why their IT department struggle to deliver simple websites since their first one in 1997. This is in spite of the delivery of many incremental improvements to the vendor technology. If you were in the business owner’s shoes you would be wondering what the hell are they doing?

  2. JoeStagner says:

    Brain,

    Thanks for the post.

    The point I was trying to make is that innovations in technology are, though nt exclusivly, what enable innovation in business.

    As a business own formust of my adult life I consistantly used technology to outperform my competition. (I’m refering to a non-Technology Related business.)

    It is completly incorrec to describe ASP.NET is a "polishing" of ASP.

    In fact, the ASP.NET model is such an innovation that the PHP and Java worlds are (rightly) evolving there platforms to emulate the ASP.NET paradign which was completly new to web development atthe time it was released.

    But I agree that the use of technology does not, in and of itself, create business innovation and also that innovative company cultures can evolve independent of high tech focus.

    I also think that trying to do one without the other is akin to cutting off you nose to spite you face.

    Regards,

    Joe

  3. JoeStagner says:

    Brian,

    Thanks for the post.

    The point I was trying to make is that innovations in technology are, though not exclusively, what enable innovation in business.

    As a business own for must of my adult life I consistently used technology to outperform my competition. (I’m referring to a non-Technology Related business.)

    It is completely incorrect to describe ASP. NET is a "polishing" of ASP.

    In fact, the ASP.NET model is such an innovation that the PHP and Java worlds are (rightly) evolving there platforms to emulate the ASP.NET parading which was completely new to web development at the time it was released.

    But I agree that the use of technology does not, in and of itself, create business innovation and also that innovative company cultures can evolve independent of high tech focus.

    I also think that trying to do one without the other is akin to cutting off you nose to spite you face.

    Regards,

    Joe

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